Saturday, April 2, 2011

Emotional Toll

When people talk about teaching, they very rarely mention the emotional toll it takes on you.  Yes, teaching is not easy work and it is very rewarding... but I think I realized recently that teaching also has a very emotional side to it. Not just in the rewards... but in the deep sadness I feel sometimes.

This week was parent teacher conferences. I didn't attend the first round during first quarter, because I had just been hired then, so this was my first official round of conferences. Most were very positive - I loved talking with the parents and seeing where my students were coming from and how parents shape their children's learning and value for education.

There were some that broke my heart. The harder conferences were the ones where my students had made some but not enough progress, and seeing where some of the parents were coming from put things into perspective for me. Imagine - illiteracy in both Spanish and English, family separation, intimidation (not sure how to help). In looking at things from those perspectives, these struggling students have learned a lot and made a lot of progress. But what happens when that is not enough?

I broke down yesterday when talking to Jerry because I felt this overwhelming responsibility. Are these kids not making the progress I want to see because I'm not a good teacher?  How can I do more and be better? Why are there circumstances in their lives that I can't do anything about? It's just not fair. 

Jerry reminded me that it is not my responsibility to make every child succeed. I mean, it definitely is - as a teacher, that's my passion - I want every child to succeed. I give my all to see that happen for every kid. But sometimes, you do all you can and it's just not enough. And that's all any of us can do - give it our best effort and pray hard that things will continue to improve for the students. It breaks my heart, though - I want to do more, but I just don't know enough. What can I do more of? I feel like I've pushed myself this year to attend every new teaching training session I could... and I have seen fruits of that labor in many students.

Sigh, I guess God is teaching me a lesson, too - look at all the successes as well. But I can't help but think about those kids I see everyday who are dealing with so much. I want to see them succeed so badly. But what more can I do? I'm still struggling to find a balance.

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